Japanese clean meat firm Integriculture raises ¥300m to fund new plants

By Lester Wan

- Last updated on GMT

With the funds raised, Integriculture is targeting early market entry by building a pilot plant and a commercial plant.
With the funds raised, Integriculture is targeting early market entry by building a pilot plant and a commercial plant.

Related tags Clean meat Japan Meat lab-grown Sustainability Food safety

Japanese clean meat firm Integriculture Inc has raised JPY 300m in a seed funding round as it strives to make products affordable for the mass market.

Previously, we had reported that the firm was developing cultured ‘foie gras’ that could be commercially launched by 2021​.

Real Tech Fund was the chief investor, with others including Beyond Next Ventures, A-FIVE (Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Fund Corporation for Innovation, Value-chain and Expansion Japan, a Japanese government fund), MTG Co., Ltd., euglena Co. Ltd., Dr Hiroaki Kitano (CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.) and so on.

Funds for development

With the funds raised, Integriculture is targeting early market entry by building its pilot plant as well as its first commercial plant. Both these plants will feature the company’s patented ‘Culnet System’, a general-purpose large-scale cell culture system.

Integriculture aims to solve the sustainability, food security and public health problems associated with the modern factory-farming method for meat production, by making clean meat affordable to general consumers.

The first lab-grown burger patty, produced in 2013 by Mark Post, founder of Mosa Meats, cost €250,000 per 200g.

According to Integriculture, producing 100g of clean meat by existing cell culture methodology today will cost several million yen.

Nonetheless, the firm says its Culnet System can culture a wide range of cells without the external addition of expensive growth factors — such as Foetal Bovine Serum (FBS).

As we previously reported, Integriculture demonstrated the culturing (using liver cells) of clean chicken foie gras, in 2017. In that effort, it also demonstrated that cells can be cultured at prices of less than JPY 10,000 (about USD 95) per 100g.

Since then, the firm said it has been getting traction from various food, supplements and cosmetics companies.

Clean meat, safe meat

“The biggest benefit of clean meat is it’s sustainable,” ​said Professor Yuki Hanyu, founder and CEO of Integriculture.

He had previously shared with us that cultured meat would require 99% less land and 96% less water than conventional farm-raised sources of meat.

“Clean meat will be free of avian flu, BSE or Mad Cow disease, and such,”​ he added.

“Also, the heavy use of antibiotics on livestock and consequent multi-resistance is an ongoing public health concern, but this is no longer an issue with clean meat.”

The company plans to build its pilot plant by this year, and its first commercial plant around the end of 2019 to 2020, in order to scale the Culnet System and correspondingly bring down cell culture costs.

Other developments and scale

Integriculture also plans to launch its first products in the supplements and cosmetics sectors by early 2020 and to gradually add more cellular agriculture products, including food, to its product lines through the 2020s.

By the mid-2020s, the company plans to achieve price parity of clean meat with conventional meat, to provide increasingly-anticipated secure and sustainable protein.

Professor Hanyu had previously shared with us that for clean meat to be competitive in price, it would need to achieve a certain scale.

“We plan to start with more immediately marketable cultured cell products, then high unit price foie gras, then general meat,”​ he said.

Integriculture reduced the cost of culture medium by replacing the expensive FBS with inexpensive “FBS substitutes”​ found in common food, the firm said.

By using this medium, the firm is able to bring down the price of the culture medium to JPY 10 or less per litre.

“The Culnet System enhances the effectiveness of the aforementioned inexpensive culture medium by generating multiple cell growth factors within the system in a tuneable way, thereby enabling highly efficient cell culture method for wide range of cells,” ​said the firm.

“Unlike the conventional disposable batch system, the Culnet System is a ‘continuous flow process’, meaning that its system can be easily scaled through parallelization and upsizing.”

According to the company, the next funding round, the Series A, is targeted for end-2019. They are hoping to raise a further USD 12m then.

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